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Whirlwind continues for Christine Sinclair in wake of world goal-scoring record –



The whirlwind continued for Christine Sinclair a day after becoming the world’s all-time leading goal-scorer.

In the wake of notching goals No. 184 and 185 in an 11-0 romp over St. Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday at the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, the Canada captain left H-E-B Park holding a box containing a pair of bespoke pair of Nike PhantomVNM boots commemorating her milestone night.

The red boots features her No. 12 jersey number, a Canadian flag, a quote from her late University of Portland coach Clive Charles (“You better earn your right to play”) and two nicknames (Sinc and Wonder) among other special touches.

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Sinclair said Thursday that equipment manager Maeve Glass had been carrying them around for the last couple of months in anticipation.

“They’re pretty sick. I’ll probably be wearing them the next couple of games,” she said with a laugh.

Back at the hotel, the 36-year-old from Burnaby B.C., was greeted by a congratulatory video supervised by midfielder Sophie Schmidt featuring friends and former college, club and Canada teammates. Robyn Gayle, a former teammate now on the Canadian team staff, decorated a room with photos documenting her career.

“It was very embarrassing but very special,” said Sinclair.

WATCH | Sinclair scores record-breaking goal:

Canadian Christine Sinclair scores the 185th goal of her career, passing American Abby Wambach on the all-time goals list. 1:10

As one might expect, her phone blew up. But she made just two calls, both to her family.

“I hope people understand that I’ll slowly get back to them over the course of the next couple of days because it’s been a lot, it’s been overwhelming.”

Then there was a wave of interviews Thursday. Sinclair, while no fan of the limelight, was a trooper.

“I’m not going to lie. To have broken the record is a weight off my shoulders,” she said. “Now I can just actually go out and enjoy it and help Canada qualify for the Olympics, because that’s the true focus, now that that goal thing is out of the way.”

Sinclair’s brace moved her past retired American Abby Wambach, who had held the mark of 184 goals. And while the Canadian skipper is as humble as they come, she is savouring seeing a Maple Leaf atop the all-time goals list.

“I’m a proud Canadian. I’m proud a Canadian’s on top of the list, I’m not going to lie,” she said.

“To have a Canadian on top of the list in a so-called hockey country, is pretty cool,” she added.

WATCH | Sinclair discusses the impact Wambach, Hamm had on her:

After becoming international soccer’s all-time leading goal scorer, Christine Sinclair spoke about the impact Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach had on her career. 1:10

Sinclair also noted the growth of the game in Canada and the support the program has received over the years.

“This environment has never been the most comfortable for me,” she said, waving at the cameras around her. “But at the same time I’m proud to represent women’s soccer. I’m proud that people care.

“When I first joined the national team, my first World Cup [in 2003] I don’t even think people knew it was happening [back] in Canada. To see the change in that has been remarkable. And it’s only going to get bigger and better. Knowing that I’ve been a small part of that is pretty special.”

Asked what she has to say to kids looking up to her, Sinclair said: “Aim higher. Follow your crazy dreams. For me it happened to be soccer, it happened to be sports. To this day I mean I don’t think I’ve worked a day in my life. When you’re so passionate about what you do, you’re willing to put in the extra work.

“Myself, my teammates, we’re proof that those dreams sometimes do come true.”

In the wake of her record-breaking performance, Sinclair drew the attention of FIFA president Gianni Infantino. In a letter to Sinclair released by FIFA, Infantino offered his “warmest congratulations on this historical and exceptional accomplishment.”

“This achievement rewards your outstanding 20-year career at the highest level, which could only be achieved thanks to your tremendous commitment, exemplary motivation, hard work and incredible passion for our beautiful game,” he wrote. “Your human qualities and skills, not to mention your remarkable contribution to the popularity and growth of women’s football, or soccer, deserve our admiration.”

WATCH | Canadian athletes congratulate Sinclair:

Canada dominates Saint Kitts and Nevis 11-0 in Olympic qualifying tournament, Christine Sinclair becomes international soccer’s top goal scorer. 2:01

The FIFA boss noted Sinclair had made 290 appearances for Canada, appearing in five FIFA Women’s World Cups and three Olympics.

“Congratulations again, dear Christine, and thank you for helping convey the positive message of football, promoting its image and benefits and being a wonderful example and role model for all those wishing to forge a career in football,” he added.

CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, Canada Soccer president Steven Reed and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were among those who also sent congratulations after the game via social media. As did Wambach and fellow American Mia Hamm, who held the goals record at 158 until Wambach passed her in 2013.

Sinclair’s Twitter feed had passed the 100,000 mark by Thursday evening.

Sinclair’s goal haul is more than Cristiano Ronaldo (99) and Pele (77) combined. Ali Daei leads the men’s international goal list with 109 in 149 appearances for Iran between 1993 and 2006.

Dwayne De Rosario tops Canadian men in scoring with 22 goals in 81 games, although 20-year-old Jonathan David is making waves with 11 goals in just 12 appearances.

Having thumped the Sugar Girlz to open the tournament, Canada now faces the Reggae Girlz of Jamaica on Saturday. No. 51 Jamaica lost 1-0 to No. 26 Mexico on Wednesday.

WATCH | Canada dominates St. Kitts in historic match:

With her 185th international soccer goal, Christine Sinclair become the world record-holder for most ever international goals. Here are some Canadian sports legends sending her well wishes on the feat. 1:30

Canada is 7-0-0 all-time against the Jamaicans with a 48-1 edge in scoring. Sinclair has accounted for 11 of those goals.

The Canadian women reviewed the St. Kitts win in a meeting with Sinclair saying coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller had offered her congratulations “for the last time.”

“I think once I probably walk out of this room, it will be time to move on an focus on the upcoming games,” Sinclair said. “And then probably revisit this when the tournament is over and I get to spend some time with my family back home and let it sink in.”

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Croatia coach sends Canada a stern message ahead of World Cup showdown





Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic sent Canada a message Saturday at the World Cup. And he didn’t need the F-word to deliver it.

Dalic offered up a stern statement when asked about John Herdman’s emotional words after Canada’s 1-0 loss to Belgium on Wednesday.

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Asked in a pitchside interview what he had said to his team in a post-game huddle, the Canada coach replied: “I told them they belong here and we’re going to go and eff— Croatia. That’s as simple as it gets.”

While Herdman delivered the last line with a smile, Dalic clearly did not see the humour.

When a Canadian reporter at Saturday’s pre-game news conference asked Dalic for his team’s response to Herdman’s heat, the Croatia coach lectured his opposition ahead of Sunday’s showdown at Khlalifa International Stadium.

Dalic used the word “respect” 12 times in his answer.

“The Croatian team deserves respect from everyone … We respect everyone, equally so,” he said through an interpreter. “We expect our opposing teams to respect us. We are worthy of their respect. The Canadians must also have respect for us. This way of putting words together is not a sign of respect. We are the (2018 World Cup runners-up), not Brazil, Spain or other countries.”

“I shall not focus or comment on any other people’s comments,” he added. “We will be prepared (Sunday), we will be fit and we will demonstrate respect for Canada … and for everyone else. We expect respect just as we exercise this view”

Croatian forward Ivan Perisic then backed up his coach, saying simply: “I second the head coach and I cannot wait for the match to begin.”

Sunday may prove otherwise but it seems, motivationally speaking, Canada has taken a knife to a gunfight.

Both the 41st-ranked Canadians and No. 12 Croatia need to get points out of the match. Belgium tops Group F with three points while Croatia and Morocco both have one point after their scoreless draw.

Canada needs to secure at least a point if it hopes to have any chance of reaching the knockout round. A loss Sunday and the Canadians can finish with no more than three points while Croatia ups its total to four. And no matter what happens in Sunday’s match between No. 2 Belgium and No. 22 Morocco, one of those teams will have at least four points.

With only two teams advancing out of the group, that would render Canada’s final group game next Thursday with Morocco meaningless in terms of tournament progression.

“At the end of the day, both teams really have to win this game,” said Herdman.

Croatian reporters didn’t bother engaging Zlatko on Herdman’s inflammatory words. They had already done so, with tabloids back home having a field day.

In contrast, three of the first four questions in Herdman’s availability were about his post-game hot take. Another came later.

The Canada coach, who had already addressed the issue on Thursday, tried to laugh off the reaction he had sparked in the Croatia camp.

He insisted he was on task “and loving the experience.” And he rejected the assertion that his words were just another motivational tool.

“We’ve been waiting 36 years to get here. I’ve used all my motivation tactics in the 20-odd games it took to get here,” he said in self-deprecating fashion.

But he maintained his words to his players in the post-game huddle after Belgium were simply “to remind them that there’s another task ahead.”

And he was quick to compliment Croatia, calling it a “top top top top football team.”

“(A) hell of a test. Hell of a test for this team,” he added. “But we’re excited.”

Herdman called Sunday’s match a “defining moment for Canada in this World Cup. It’s one of those do-or-die games now that we have to perform in to stay at a World Cup.”

Dalic, meanwhile, called Canada “a tough team full of self-confidence.”

The two sides have never met before.

The Croatian roster features the likes of Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Perisic (Tottenham), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea) and Mario Pasalic (Atalanta). Only six of its 26-man roster play at home in Croatia, with four of those at Dinamo Zagreb.

Despite that talent, Croatia had its hands full with No. 22 Morocco in its tournament opener, playing to a scoreless draw in a game that saw each team put just two shots on target.

Croatia goes into Sunday’s match riding a seven-game unbeaten streak (5-0-2) dating back to a 3-0 loss to Austria in June in UEFA Nations League play. Croatia avenged that defeat with a 3-1 decision over the Austrians in September.

Croatia has outscored the opposition 9-3 over that run, which includes a win and tie against No. 4 France.

“With all due respect to Croatia, they have a very very good team. It’s going to be tough for us,” said Canadian midfielder Stephen Eustaquio. “But it’s going to be tough for them as well.”

The Canadians, who blamed traffic for showing up 41 minutes late for their news conference before the Belgium game, arrived two minutes early Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2022.

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Croatian coach feels disrespected by Canadian coach’s comment at FIFA World Cup



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DOHA, Qatar — Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic said he felt disrespected by Canada head coach John Herdman for his comment in a group huddle following a loss to Belgium on Wednesday.

After the emotional 1-0 loss at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Herdman gathered his troops on the field and gave an impassioned speech.

When asked following the game what he told his team, Herdman admitted he told his group to ‘F’ Croatia, in reference to Canada’s second game at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

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On the eve of the game Sunday (11 a.m. ET) at the Khalifa International Stadium, Croatian coach Zlatko Zlatko Dalic was again asked about the comment at the pre-match press conference here on Saturday.

“Canadians must have respect for us and this way of putting words together is not a sign of respect,” Dalic said through an interpreter. “We are the runners up (2018 World Cup), it wasn’t Brazil or Spain or any other country. We are the runners up, we were second in the world, we are worth of respect the way we played, the way we behave, the way we respect all others, is the reason we are worthy or respect.

“I shall not focus or comment on other people’s comment. We will be prepared, be fit and we will demonstrate respect from Canada and from everyone else. We expect respect just as we exercise this view.”

Croatia was a surprising World Cup finalist four years ago in Russia, beating England in the semifinal before losing to France. Along the way, Croatia also beat Argentina in the group stage.

Croatia was held to a scoreless draw in its opening match by Morocco on Wednesday. Croatia concluded the group stage against Belgium on Thursday.

“The Croatia team deserves respect from everyone; we have proven that by the way we’ve played with our conduct at the World Cup; since the very beginning we’ve deserved respect and dignity,” Dalic said. “We have two (World Cup) medals in the last 30 years and we’re up there with Germany and France and countries like that have such an achievement. We respect everyone equally so we expect our opposing teams to respect us. We are worth of their respect.”

Croatia striker Ivan Perisic was also asked for his thoughts on Herdman’s comments.

“I second the head coach,” he said. “And I cannot wait for the match to begin.”

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Canada coach Herdman jokes about Croatian tabloid




DOHA, Qatar –

Canada had just lost its first World Cup match in 36 years, outplaying Belgium for much of a 1-0 defeat, and an emotional John Herdman revealed in the on-field interview what he had just told his players during a postgame huddle.

“I told them they belong here. And we’re going to go and F Croatia,” the coach said with a smile, using a single letter to avoid a televised profanity. “That’s as simple as it gets.”

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His words reverberated all the way to Zagreb as Sunday’s Croatia-Canada game approached.

Croatia’s 24 Sata (24 Hours) tabloid ran a fullpage photo of a naked Herdman with Maple Leaf flags over his mouth and private parts and a headline that translated to: “You have the mouth, but do you have the (guts) as well?”

Commenting Saturday on Herdman’s words, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic used the word “respect” 13 times in a 90-second span.

“This way of putting words together is not a sign of respect,” he said through a translator. “The way we play, the way we behave and the way we respect all others are the reasons we are worthy of respect.”

Sitting next to Dalic, winger Ivan Perisic said simply: “I second the head coach and I cannot wait for the match to begin.”

Speaking before Dalic, Herdman used humour in an attempt to defuse tensions.

“When you get a text from your wife telling me you need to start working out before you get home, yeah, you think you know something’s going on,” Herdman said, noting the newspaper image was of a trimmer midsection than his own.

“My wife’s coming after you guys,” he told a reporter from that Croatian paper, laughing. “She wishes she got that guy. I’ve got a bit more of a belly than that. I’ve been eating too much.”

On Thursday, Herdman had explained what his intent was.

“You say those things in an impassioned moment trying to inspire your team in a huddle, and when you’re asked the question what you said in that huddle, yeah, it was what I said,” he said.

“It’s not massively respectful to Croatian people and the Croatian national team. I understand very well where they’re at on the world stage. But in that moment, you’ve taken your men to that next place,” he added.

Playing Croatia for the first time, Canada could be eliminated with another defeat.

Croatia, which lost the 2018 final to France, is the world’s 12th-ranked team and opened with a 0-0 draw against Morocco. Star Luka Modric, playing what is likely his last World Cup at age 37, put a first-half shot over the crossbar.

Canada has played just four World Cup games in its history and still is searching for its first goal. The Canadians outshot the Belgians 21-9 but gave up a 44th-minute goal to Michy Batshuayi from a long pass. Alphonso Davies had a chance to put Canada ahead in the 11th minute but his penalty kick was saved by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

“We know exactly what our slingshot is and we’ve got to be ready to attack that across different games now because, as I say, the cover’s off from Canada,” Herdman said. “I think people come into this game, the next games respecting us a little bit more.”

Captain Atiba Hutchinson, at 39 the only member of the current roster alive when Canada went 0-3 at the 1986 World Cup, can make his 100th international appearance Sunday — Julian de Guzman is second with 89.

Midfielder Jonathan Osorio is looking forward to facing the last World Cup’s runner-up.

“We like to play the best,” he said after the Belgium match. “We’re excited for the challenge.”

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